Saturday, May 30, 2009

Brewin up some math

My brother posted a link to a homebrew recipe calculator tool on Facebook and I thought it was so handy that I wanted to share.

The site also has over 4000 recipes as well as a good catalog of styles (with recipes and notes on each).

That's all! Short & sweet today. I'm off to Flying Saucer to get some Founders, then to Grinders for more beer and some Ben Folds. Have a great Saturday!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Tap Nites at Flying Saucer

Looks like Flying Saucer has a new schitck - Tap Nite. They tap a new keg at 7pm each Thursday, and the selections are special ("rare") brews.

Tonight, Flying Saucer taps a keg of New Holland's trippel:
Mysterious, alluring and seductive, yet tantalizingly elusive; these are the storied characteristics of the Black Tulip.

Golden in color, Black Tulip Trippel is a delightful beer with a slightly sweet body. Its ester-laden character reveals an enigmatic dance between Belgian ale yeast and Michigan beet sugar, conjuring hints of bananas and rock candy. Its inviting flavor is complemented by a pleasing dry finish.

19.6° Plato, Alc. 8.8% by Vol.

Their calendar already identifies kegs for each Thursday through the end of July, including beer from Arcadia, Left Hand, New Holland, and Schlafly.

And while I'm talking about Flying Saucer, the first two weeks in June celebrate the Missourian arrival of beer from two fantastic breweries - Founders and Moylan's. Each has its own glass night (6/3 and 6/10 respectively) and will provide me with two more reasons to spend more money on beer.

Friday, May 22, 2009

June Taste Beering @ Grinders

Next month's taste beering at Grinders features beers from O'Fallon. Below is their food & beer pairing:
  • Wheach & gingered goat cheese truffles rolled in spiced pecans.
  • Unfiltered Wheat & shaved fennel, watercress, pancetta, with a champagne citrus vinaigrette
  • Gold & jerk chicken with rice
  • 5 Day IPA & sliders with sweet potato fries
  • Coco Cream Stout & rasberry creme anglais float
June 9th, 7pm. $15.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Local Updates

More updates!

Looks like Schlafly just released their quadrupel which should be in stores soon. "Schlafly Quadrupel is, as its name implies, a serious beer. But don’t be intimidated. This fourth beer in our bottle-conditioned Belgian-style beer series has a rich, malty backbone that is generously balanced by select, fresh hops to create a luscious, smooth character. Sharing it with friends enhances the enjoyment, whether in front of a roaring fire or at the finest dinner party." I've found their other Belgian styles to be quite good, and expect the same from the quad.

Great Divide, which competes with Avery for my "favorite Colorado brewery" designation, is releasing two new brews this month:
Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti: We toned down the hops a bit to allow cocoa nibs to contribute some pleasing bitterness, while vanilla notes from the oak combine with the cocoa to create an aroma and flavor akin to a gourmet chocolate bar. A dash of cayenne keeps things lively, adding just a bit of heat to the finish. A Yeti for summer? Hell yes.

Double Wit: Our more muscular take on the beloved white ales of Belgium. Unmalted wheat and Belgian malted barley give the beer a light body and straw hue, while coriander and curaçao provide the traditional notes of spice and light acidity. This cloudy, deceptively drinkable creation should be enjoyed without the addition of fruit.

Looks like they'll be bottling & distributing them, though I can't find any further info on that - anyone know?

Most of you already know Boulevard is coming out with an American Pilsner this summer. It will be "available initially only in Kansas City in 6-packs. We’re paying homage to the legacy of past Kansas City breweries with a classic American lager; all malt, real hop character, unpasteurized. Basically an American beer 'revival' for local consumers made by a traditional Midwestern craft brewery.'"

Founders is indeed set to arrive in Missouri in early June. A kick-off promo at Flying Saucer in the P&L is on June 3 at 7:00 PM. And for those of you keeping score, Wednesdays are also the Saucer's "keep the glass" night - buy a beer, keep the glass. Yes, celebrate the arrival of a top-notch brewery's products with a free glass to boot. Here's hoping it's something more exciting than a standard pint glass.

And that's all I've got for today. Prost!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Like a Kid in a Candy Store

It's been a long week. I left work early to get a head start on the weekend, and thought I'd stop at Royal on my way home to pick up a little treat. I was thinking maybe a little bottle of something Belgian.

That'll teach me.

Yeah, yeah, you're thinking, "WTF is that Bud Ice doing in there??" Well, as it turns out, ice beers are not just about higher alcohol content (and in fact, some "ice" beers have water added back after the ice is removed). When ice crystals form, they also trap impurities in the beer. The idea is that when the ice is removed, any impurities in the beer are removed along with it. My guess is that this makes for a "smoother" beer, although I'm not sure how much smoother Budweiser is supposed to be. For a couple bucks, I figured it was worth finding out.

I picked up a good mix of 12oz bottles as well; a little something for every mood: Southern Tier phin & matt's extraordinary ale, Schlafly Helles, Sam Adams LongShot Weizenbock, New Holland Full Circle Kölsch, Schlitz Gusto, and Tommyknocker Maple Nut Brown. I'll try to remember to come back and post about my thoughts on each. They're all new for me, except for the Tommyknocker which I already know is delicious.

The story about the Schlitz Gusto comeback is somewhat interesting. You can read a pretty long story about it here, or check out the website or Bull E Vard's blog post about it... I'm drinking it right now and it's not bad. It definitely has a nice bitter aftertaste without being too adjunct-sour. I only recently tried PBR (despite living in Portland during the PBR revival, where you can't go anywhere without seeing a bunch of hipsters clinging to their PBR tallboys) and thought it was pretty damn good - great summer or session beer. Schlitz has more flavor, more bitterness, and is a bit more complex. Aside from the hop bitterness, there's some light malt flavor and roasted corn. Pretty good - try it!

And finally - Boulevard Saison-Brett. Yes, this is the 2009 batch. $12.99 at Royal Liquor on State Line - they have quite a bit of this in stock at the moment.

Really, with a ton of beer already at home, the last thing we needed was more beer. Everything just looked so good....

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sudsy Travels

I've had the good fortune to travel for work several times in the past 3 months. I've been to the Philly area, Minneapolis, and Richmond (twice). Every time I know I'll be traveling, I do two things:
  1. Book my travel
  2. Locate highly-respected beer establishments near the client office and/or my hotel provides regional directories of breweries, brewpubs, and beer bars that have come in extremely handy many times. There's also a beer mapping project that I've used a couple of times, but it is not as thorough as the BeerAdvocate directories. It needs your input!

Pennsylvania has the most bizarre beer distribution laws I've heard of. The state license for liquor store beer sales stipulates that "...sales must be made in original containers of no less than one case of twenty-four (24) containers or seven (7) ounces. "Twelve packers" are acceptable, but the single containers of beer products must be at least twenty-four (24) ounces. Single containers holding more than 128 ounces are acceptable. In most cases, single container sales involve kegs of beer or beer products." However, if said establishment sells prepared food and has enough seating, it can sell beer by the bottle (or 6-pack). This has resulted in a handful of liquor stores that have an entire section dedicated to food/eating. (Picture Gomers and QT all in one.) So, while in Philadelphia, I ventured out to The Foodery. If you're in a car, I highly recommend not going to the south location. Great selection, but I circled the area for about 10-15 minutes before parking in what might have been an illegal fashion, so I could run in and get some beer.

Helpful Hint - if you pack beer in a suitcase, also buy a giant roll of bubble wrap. Broken beer bottle + clothing + suitcase = messy.

And while you're in Philly, Victory Brewing is only a 20-30 minute drive away and worth the trip. The drive is beautiful and the brewpub is just as enjoyable. The food is tasty (I had a crab, corn and poblano pizza - delish) and the service was on par. They had about 20 beers on tap, including some Belgian styles, IPAs, light lager, pils, stout, smoked porter, and various others.

Richmond, VA
There isn't a whole lot to offer in terms of a great beer selection, but there are choices. There's a brewpub in the trendy Shockoe Slip area named Richbrau. It's okay; their beer is good, but not remarkable, and the food was pretty bad. Just down the street from Richbrau is Sine Irish Pub which, for an Irish bar, has a great beer selection. They have a few Virginia beers on tap as well as some craft brews (Victory, Brooklyn, etc). I haven't eaten there, but the food always smells great and the presentation is excellent. And their fish & chips plate is humongous.

My favorite spot, however, is Capital Ale House. It's a nice place downtown, with a very large dark wood bar surrounded by booths and tables. The front of the restaurant opens to Main street for some people-watching, but good luck tearing yourself away from the massive beer menu. Both times I've gone on Tuesdays, where they offer a branded brewery glass with your beer. This time around was Magic Hat. In my visits, I've had (all on tap) Jever, Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale, Magic Hat's Lucky Kat IPA, and Green Flash West Coast IPA. The Green Flash blows most American IPAs out of the hop-infused water. I like it better that most I've had. It's extremely dry and hoppy, with pronounced Simcoe and Columbus flavors. Grapefruity and citrusy and a little piney, its 95 IBUs won't let an IPA-lover down. Definitely not for someone who doesn't like bitter beer, but perfect for anyone who is on the pursuit for that hoppy IPA that isn't loaded with malty sweetness.

They have two bars - one upstairs and one down - and each has a different tap selection. I find it a bit customer-unfriendly that if you want a beer that is at the "other" bar from which you're ordering, your server won't get it for you. They tell you to go down/up to the other bar, get the beer, then tell the person at the bar your name and to add it to your tab.

And finally, Minneapolis. I didn't have a lot of time while there but was determiend to make a trip, however brief, to Minneapolis Town Hall. I was with a co-worker who only likes Boulevard Wheat and Blue Moon, so I was fully prepared to pay through the nose for a cab to & from the hotel. I wanted to go to Surly as well, but it was hard enough convincing my coworker to go to MTH (and, as it turns out, he drank three hefeweizens and talked about how good they were for a week).

The beer was good and sitting in the beer garden at the "four corners" intersection on a beautifully sunny day made it that much better. I started off with a Masala Mama IPA which was just about what I expected it to be - a solid American IPA that is highly drinkable - appropriately hoppy and moderately malty. I ordered the sampler next, which included a sample of the Masala Mama. I asked if I could sub their seasonal Minnesota Mild for the IPA and, surprisingly, they told me no! The server suggested I get the seasonal sampler and he would bring me a taste of the Mild. I agreed and was glad I did. Their Mango Masala Mama was fantastic! Dry, hoppy, and tropical - but not sweet. A good fruit beer for those who don't like fruity beer.

On the way to the hotel, I picked up some cans of Surly CynicAle and fell in love. The peppery vanilla saison was amazing and like nothing I'd ever tasted. Bull E Vard recently raved about Surly, and I can certainly understand why. If their other beers are as interesting and different as these, and it sounds like they are, I'm anxious to try more.

While I don't want something complex and multi-faceted every time I have a beer, it's always fun to try something new and different. It's an upside of my travels, adding something to look forward to break up what are always very long days.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Local Updates

As I enjoy a Victory Prima Pils I picked up in PA a while back (mmm), I thought I'd post a handful of updates for today.

Looks like Founders isn't coming to MO until some time in June. The waiting continues.

Free State has a new website AND a blog. Their first (and, currently, only) post details a trip to Belgium last year for the brewers. Their full list of beers has also been updated and is so much easier to use (and drool-inducing). Speaking of beer - in addition to their regular lineup, they also have a porter and maibock on tap.

Waldo Pizza has Avery's Maharaja IIPA on tap. Had a glass of it last week and it was just as delicious as I'd remembered. And if you go on the right night, the new bartender might just serve it in a 16oz glass. ;)

Anderson Valley is taking KC by storm. They sure make some good beer, and now you can get more of it at Barley's in Shawnee. They've got Brother David Double & Tripel, as well as a handful of other new ones now and forthcoming (including Great Divide's Dunkelweiss, which I'm also very excited about). It's about time, Barley's - your beer list was getting a little stagnant (or is it just that I was going too frequently?).

Looks like Odell is coming out with a couple of seasonals soon. Woodcut #2, an oak-aged pale, will be in stores this month and their new Extra Pale Ale will be out this June.

Boulevard's Two Jokers Double Wit should be hitting stores soon... Remember that Boulevard is pairing up a Smokestack release with a seasonal. The Wit's partner is ZON, which is already in stores. I've been looking for Two Joker and have yet to see it, but expect it'll be there any day now.

And, while I'm definitely a dyed-in-the-wool hophead, I am VERY excited for Sierra Nevada's Kellerweis. "Kellerweis is one of the only American Hefeweizens made using the traditional Bavarian style of open fermentation. This difficult and labor-intensive technique adds uncommon depth and flavor complexity. Our hazy-golden hefeweizen is deeply flavorful, refreshing and perfect for a sunny day." AHH!! I love German styles and I love Sierra Nevada's beer. This one is bound to be a winner. (And speaking of Sierra Nevada, if you enjoy their stuff, check out their Brown Saison at Flying Saucer while it lasts).

That's it for now. Hopefully that'll keep everyone busy for a while.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Conferences - 1 down, 2 to go, and many more to come

Some of you may have followed the Craft Brewers Conference this year on Twitter. While the beery tweets filled up my “Twitter” folder (thanks OutTwit!), I found myself increasingly jealous of the attendees. I found this today while browsing through another beer blog at lunch. This is a shortened version of the intro to the keynote speech by Stone Brewing’s Greg Koch.

I Am A Craft Brewer from I Am A Craft Brewer on Vimeo.

It’s a little over-the-top, but it was fun to try to identify as many breweries/brewers as I could while watching the video. ;-) Same game we played while sitting at the Saucer this weekend – identifying the beer bottles on the wall from the back of the pub. Good times.

The homebrewer's version of the conference is coming up next month - The National Homebrewers Conference in Oakland, CA. Looks like most of it is sold out, but some tickets are still available. The schedule is finally available, and it looks like there will be a lot of informative sessions. Interestingly enough, it's taking place at the same time of the American Craft Beer Festival. Of course, most people will be interested in one more than the other - but it sure would be fun to go to both.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Weekend of the Craft Beer Trifecta

Saturday was a great day for beer lovers and makers. First, there was the 6th annual Parkville Microbrew Festival. Second, Flying Saucer's 1st anniversary in KC. And finally, National Homebrew Day. As we were too busy with the first two, we did not participate in National Homebrew Day. Perhaps we'll create our own "National Homebrew Day, Redux" in the near future.

The Parkville festival was an overall win, and the selections were plentiful and varied. Upon arrival, we were handed a flyer listing all the breweries and 2 beers for each one. As it turns out, most breweries had at least 3 on tap - several offered at least 5. There were two breweries that impressed me - Little Apple out of Manhattan, KS and Empyrean out of Lincoln, NE. I will definitely drink my fill of their beer given another opportunity to do so, and recommend you do the same. 75th Street offered their IPA pumped through Randall, which contained 100% Simcoe hops (yeah!). It was my #1 favorite at the festival, though not by a large margin (and I will fully admit a bias for Simcoe hops). I asked if they'll be using Randall much at the brewpub and was told that it's a real pain to set up and clean, so they tend to only set it up for special occasions. I will definitely keep my eye out for such occasions and will post about them here.

Free State's Bumper Crop Saison was fantastic as well (and note their new web site). I am not a big Saison person, but do appreciate good versions of them (Boulevard and Rogue included). At 35 IBUs, this one was hoppier than most in the style and definitely not for someone who shies away from hoppy beers. But if you enjoy a good Saison and are not scared by a bit of bitterness, I highly recommend it. This was my #2 favorite at the festival.

The loser of the day, by the widest margin imaginable, was Lucky Bucket's Concentrated Evil - a barrel-aged quad. I have no idea what they were trying to do here, but it was the strangest beer I think I've ever tasted (not including the wormwood beer some friends & I tried making years ago. Bad idea.). It was exactly how I would imagine watered-down rotten prune puree to taste. And, it was the ONLY sample I dumped out prior to finishing. Funny enough, it was KC Hop Head's favorite. I wonder if what I got was ruined or tampered with somehow (it was poured out of a plastic cup) - this should have been something I found delicious and warming, but it wasn't even close. I'd be interested in trying it again in a different environment - say, from a keg for starters.

That said, nearly all the beer I had there ranged from "I'd buy a pint of that" to "I can't wait to have this again." There wasn't one brewery there that I thought should look into doing something else. The only disappointment I had in the event itself was that there wasn't more seating. Some fest tables would have been great - drinking all that beer is hard work!

We headed over to Flying Saucer for their 1-year-in-KC anniversary and ordered a couple of beers. I got a Sierra Nevada Brown Saison (hey, Free State inspired me) which I also found highly enjoyable. This is a very drinkable beer, with a soft mouthfeel, sweet toasty aroma, and slightly spicy saison funk. We were watching the Kentucky Derby and was reminded that saisons are often described as "horsey" - this one is no different. But, true to Sierra Nevada style, it was also well-hopped for a saison - again at 35IBUs. We were there, though, for Bear Republic's Racer X which was tapped at 5pm. The big brother of Racer 5, this Imperial IPA is not to be missed. Not overwhelmingly malty, it provides just enough sweetness to back the citrusy pineyness of the hops. While it won't hit you over the head with bitterness, it is definitely a West Coast IIPA - less sweet and hoppier than its eastern and midwestern counterparts. If you are a hophead, you owe it to yourself to get a pint before they run out (if they haven't already).

In terms of trying new, solidly good beer, this was definitely one of the best beer weekends I've had in a while. I am already looking forward to next year!